This is a short introduction to edible perennial gardens, to hopefully spark a little inspiration for you to grow your own edible perennial.
Edible perennial gardens are great for many reasons, one being their long term harvesting capabilities. A perennial plant is a plant that grows for more than two years, it is different from annual or biennial plants. Annuals are grown in a single year and biennials are grown the first year for their crop, the second year they usually bolt right away, which means you can collect seeds for future use. A good perennial for your growing zone can survive through the winter and come back again and again. Some can last decades! When looking to purchase perennial plants, know your hardiness zone, and match plants to what will work in your hardiness zone. There are many plants that can tolerate mild climates and last through light winters and there are those who can stand much colder temperatures. It is really important to pick perennials that will thrive in your climate.
The great thing about perennials is that once you take the time to establish them, you can reap the benefits of many harvests again and again for years to come. You will still need to make sure to amend the soil around them and feed them a quality organic fertilizer meant for that variety of plant. (Follow directions on the package, more is not better when it comes to feeding plants.) A lot of perennial plants can be grown in containers, in fact some should be grown in containers. Plants like horseradish or Jerusalem artichokes act like mint, meaning they will take over garden beds and should only be grown in containers. Others can be grown in your garden beds or another section of your yard. If you have space to create a perennial garden section, you can grow many other varieties that will not take over too much. (They will grow larger in time and may spread slowly.) Take note that it can be a few years or longer for your plant to reach a harvestable size. This allows the plant to focus on root development for a healthier, longer life. Just like cut and come again greens, do not harvest too much off a single plant, so they can continue to grow.
There are four types of edible perennials to think about, I have listed these below along with different varieties within each type:
- Herbs: Chives, thyme, oregano, and sage to name a few.
- Tubers, Bulbs and Roots: Egyptian walking onion, ramps, horseradish, Jerusalem artichokes, wild garlic, wild leeks, etc.
- Vegetables: Rhubarb, asparagus, sorrel, and many more.
- Fruits and Berries: blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, apples, plums, peaches, grapes, pears, etc.
The choices for perennial edibles is long and varied. The next four weeks I will cover each type of edible perennial in greater detail including nutrition information and cooking tips for specific varieties. I will link them here as the weeks go by in case you are reading this at a later date.
I hope this plants a seed in your mind to start growing an edible perennial! As always, if you need advice or help in the garden or kitchen, I am available for coaching sessions. You can book here: Coaching Session